The argument whether Cam Oliver should have stayed at Nevada for his junior season, or declared for the NBA Draft, is now null and void.
Oliver declared. He did not get drafted. He signed with Houston as a free agent.
Last week, I pointed out the numerous positives for Oliver in Houston. The roster is flexible. The forward position is relatively weak. The style of play is an ideal fit for Oliver’s skillset. The franchise is stable. And there’s a point guard in place who creates shots for himself (yes) as well as his teammates. James Harden passed out an NBA-leading 11.2 assists per game this season.
Houston sweetened the pot last week.
The Rockets traded guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, along with forward and first-round draft pick Sam Dekker, to the Clippers for Chris Paul.
The move lowered Houston’s number of guaranteed contracts down to eight, established even more opportunity for Oliver at the forward position, and brought in another ball handler who creates shots. Paul averaged 9.2 assists per game this season in an offense far slower than Houston’s.
Houston’s willingness to move on from Dekker, as well as the reported “multi-year” deal it offered the Nevada star, suggests the Rockets are more invested in Oliver than the free-agent signing sigma suggests.
We will start to see if it was a worthy investment as early as this week. Oliver, and the Rockets, will play in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League which starts Friday and concludes July 17.
With a now perceived margin of error for Oliver, he doesn’t need to play out of his mind in Vegas. Just the opposite. He needs to play within himself while demonstrating the athleticism and outside shot that made Houston sign him within minutes of the draft’s conclusion.
Boxing back on big stage with controversy
I did something Saturday night for the first time ever.
Sitting on the couch was not new. The Sierra Nevada variety pack in my fridge, was. Forrest Gump thinks beer variety packs are unpredictable. He’s right
But that’s not what I’m speaking to.
I watched a boxing match. A real boxing match. Not what many (myself excluded) will endure on Aug. 26 when Floyd Mayweather will toy with Conor McGregor before ending the “match” when he sees fit. I, fortunately, didn’t even watch Mayweather grind past Manny Pacquiao in May 2015.
Pacquiao agreed to fly to Australia to fight hometown Jeff Horn to defend his WBO welterweight world title on Saturday night (Sunday afternoon in Brisbane). And he OK’d putting the fight on cable television. I, and many others with the same limited boxing prowess, would not have seen the fight otherwise.
We watched a fight that featured actual offense. It featured blood. It was literally dripping with drama.
ESPN/Stephen A. Smith yelled at us post-match that the unanimous decision in Horn’s favor was an outrage. The subjective punch stats greatly favored Pacquiao. Teddy Atlas damn near snapped the table he was sitting at in half.
Would there be the same public outrage if everyone watched the fight on mute?
And when did Stephen A. become the voice of reason for anything, let alone boxing?
The one man with a microphone and actual boxing experience, Timothy Bradley Jr., said during the fight it was closer than Atlas was declaring. He eventually said he still believed Pacquiao won the fight.
Few, except the three judges, will argue with him. But Pacquiao knew the risks when he signed off on fighting Horn in his hometown. He had the chance to end in the fight in the ninth round as Horn wobbled. However, the finish line proved allusive once more.
Both boxers said they’re open to the rematch that was worked into the fight’s contract. Pacquiao would be advised to take that one out of the judge’s hands.
A release of one starting infielder and the promotion of two others left the Aces without 75 percent of their Opening Day starting infield.
They immediately dropped three of four at Salt Lake and fell in their series opener at El Paso, 13-4, on Friday night.
A rainout Saturday allowed Reno to collect itself, going on to sweep Sunday’s doubleheader, 12-0 and 4-3 in a pair of seven-inning contests.
With the two victories, Reno nudged its division lead to six games over Fresno, which won its 10th straight game on Sunday. The Aces go to Fresno next weekend for a three-game series that suddenly has implications.
The entire PCL then takes the following four days off for the All-Star break.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.